The importance of serving the community
For the first time in its 42-year history, the Greater Chicago Food Depository was present at Fiesta del Sol, a four-day festival celebrating Mexican food and culture in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago.
Pilsen is a vibrant neighborhood known for its rich heritage of music, art and cuisine brought to this country by generations of immigrants. Like other neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides, though, Pilsen has endured years of racial disparities and disinvestment.
Fiesta del Sol illuminated the beauty of Pilsen, though, featuring music, artisan crafts and delicious food.
And for the first time, the Food Depository was in attendance as a sponsor. The goal of being there: to spread awareness and share information about the programs and resources available to the community, no strings attached.
“This was a long time coming, especially when considering our mission to connect with communities and eradicate hunger,” said Carmen Carrizales, member services coordinator for the Food Depository.
Carrizales and nine other staff members and volunteers took advantage of this festival to share information about the mission that is near and dear to them.
Festival attendees had the opportunity to stop by the booth and learn about the Food Depository’s benefits outreach team, which connects people to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Medicaid, among other forms of assistance. About one-third of the people who live in Pilsen are considered at risk of food insecurity, according to a Food Depository analysis.
Many people did not recognize the free opportunities to receive help through the Food Depository’s network of food pantries, benefits outreach team and job training programs. They also learned how they might get involved to help others through volunteering.
The Food Depository wants to meet the community where they are. And for the Latino community, this may be at the intersection of Cermak and Carpenter, or it might be in Humboldt Park, or in Hermosa.
This may have been the first Fiesta del Sol for the Food Depository, but it won’t be the last.